Happy Sad

Thanks to Little Door Books for asking me to be part of the blog tour for this lovely book: I’m definitely happy to do so.

Happy Sad
Pippa Goodhart and Augusta Kirkwood
Little Door Books

Young sea loving Toby becomes conflicted in more ways than one in this captivating picture book.
Living by the seashore, the boy spends a lot of his time delighting in the natural objects he finds thereon as well, as playing in and out of the waves. 

One day as he peers into a rock pool, Toby notices a fishy tail moving in the water; he dips in his net and pulls out not the fish he anticipated but a tearful little mermaid. She responds to Toby’s “Why are you sad?” by telling him she became stranded when the tide turned. Her feelings are palpable in Augusta Kirkwood’s portrayal of the two during this encounter. With great care and the best of intentions, Toby picks up the mermaid and takes her home with him. 

There, his Mum and Dad help him accommodate the little creature. Her response to the boy’s “Are you happy now” is that whereas she likes the pool, she misses the company of her fishy friends. Toby knows just what to do … 

Now the mermaid feels “happy sad” – happy with the fish but sad because she isn’t able to play with her father. The empathetic Toby continues to add things to the pool but the mermaid remains “happy sad”, even when he says he’ll return her to the sea, for now a strong bond of friendship has formed between the two.

Surprised when the mermaid invites him to live in the sea with her, Toby considers this, 

but then somewhat reluctantly, takes her to the water’s edge and watches her swim off. You can imagine how they both feel about their parting but perhaps it won’t be a forever one.You never know.

Pippa’s powerful story of empathy, kindness and putting others before yourself, shows that it is possible to feel both sad and happy at the same time. Together with richly coloured illustrations by Augusta Kirkwood, portraying so clearly the emotional changes both main characters undergo, this is a thought-provoking book to share, especially with KS1 children. It’s rich in classroom potential too.

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